Google is open sourcing Cardboard to keep its 'no-frills' VR headset alive

Google Cardboard is now open source to keep the mobile VR daydream alive

Google Cardboard Goes Open Source

A day after the Pixel 4 launch, Google confirmed it's backing down from its Daydream VR project.

The company said the code repository includes features such as APIs for head tracking, lens distortion rendering, and input handling, for developers to build Android and iOS apps designed for Cardboard VR experiences.

Google had however been promoting the use of the devices in a number of educational settings, and the cheap headsets have been widely distributed by some media companies such as the New York Times, leaving those users potentially stranded. Cardboard was revolutionary in the way it empowered VR experiences with nothing but, well, a makeshift cardboard headset with special lenses. But while headsets were relatively easy to make, the software behind Cardboard stagnated to the point of being forgotten. Developers are free to build new experiences for Cardboard and add support to their apps. Google will continue to make some contributions, most notably an SDK package for Unity. Google claims it still sees user interest with Cardboard in education and entertainment domains with YouTube and Google Expeditions being the two most popular choices.

An Android QR code library has also been included, Google said, pointing out that it will mean apps can be paired with any Cardboard viewer without the need for the Cardboard app. To get started with the Cardboard open source project, head on over to the GitHub page or read the developer documentation. This is a cool move for anyone still interested in mobile VR, but it also shows how Google isn't really invested in it anymore.

This neglect is acknowledged by Chan in the blog post, but the company wants to keep it alive as a low-priced VR solution for those who can't go dropping £400 on an Oculus Quest at the drop of a hat. Enter your email to be subscribed to our newsletter.

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